Saturday, October 25, 2008

Disruption - 140 characters at a time!

I have been collecting primary market research data in order to build a stream of posts that offer emerging trends and "realism's" to folks who care! This one will discuss how business is using twitter, one of the most disruptive tools I have seen yet, and it's just scratching the surface. I can't believe I am actually ahead of my daughter using a new web-based trend (not totally true, but it sounded good!). See Wikipedia for definitions and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter.

For those not familiar, twitter is a microblogging tool that allows people to create an online ID, then follow and be followed by fellow enthusiasts. I have so far found this very useful for both business and pleasure. Nearly every day there are new tools that make it easier to accomplish some mundane or tedious task on twitter. People can post messages up to 140 characters.

For businesses, you can create alerts similar to "Google Alerts" on certain keywords. I have done this for products, company, and topics. So far, I have connected to several folks that I find that try Asterisk, Digium's world leading open source phone system software and Switchvox, Digium's turnkey business phone system solution that runs on top of Asterisk. I have helped a customer who felt compelled to post a comment and today I have connected to folks trying the Switchvox Free edition. There are Obama and McCain and Palin twitter accounts for latest news.

During the hurricane season, a group of folks collaborated on following the storm faster than almost anything I've ever seen with people in the eye of the storm passing real time information. Companies helped and people helped. It was an amazing lightning fast deployment of people and news - another application of "community"!

For fun, I am an avid Red Sox fan. The nights of Red Sox playoff games, I did use tweetscan, roomatic, and other tools to follow Red Sox related posts and made new friends who have a common bond of the Red Sox. The nights of presidential and VP debates, it was the same thing. This is collaboration and debating at its best - online among most people who are strangers and newfound online pals.

If you look for ways to learn, besides using google to search, find the top 50 or 100 twitterers and follow them. You''ll start to see the picture.

This tool can help micro-communities grow and be noticed. I have seen PR, community managers, real estate professionals, programmers and web 2.0 geeks, food critics and enthusiasts and just all kinds of good folks who want to openly communicate with others everywhere in the world!

Now I have nothing to do with the company or the product twitter, but I am a user who sees value from this disruption. There are web marketing firms, like Hubspot (www.hubspot.com) that leverage twitter among other tools for Internet Marketing. TV News liks CNN uses twitter to spread new stories. Once you get used to it, you will learn all sorts of tricks. Also, search for tools for your cell phone, iPhone (I use Hahlo), tools to build subgroups, real time tools like twhirl and it goes on on an.

The disruption is obvious. New ways to reach thousands to millions, new ways to communicate, and if you are anything like me, email, text messaging, even IM become niche products. Imagine saying email is a niche product! It's a new way to virally spread information. I post a URL/article to my followers, a few of them like the post and re-tweet to their followers. As you build your house of followers, you begin to get the picture of viral marketing and viral messaging.

Want to try it? www.twitter.com and sign up.

A little note of caution: with good things come not so good things. You will find businesses send spam, market to you, etc. You can block these users easily.

Have fun, and feel free to share you thoughts, good bad or indifferent.

Oh and finally, be careful. It can begin to waste a lot of time if you are not selective. Most of my time on real time twitter is evenings and weekends when relaxing at home. I do use the tweetbeep tool ("google" type alerts for twitter) to send to my email where I receive work-related twitter posts to follow up and/or track.

(Find me at beelinebill on twitter)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Also, can you point me to the primary market research data you teased me with? I'd love to see some of it!

Digium Bill said...

First, thanks for reading and commenting on the blog post.

I shared some of the trends in the post. Specific Details are for business and not for sale or publication outside of my company. But moving ahead, I will be posting elements from my research in this very blog.

Maybe you'll not post anonymously in the future! Also, it would be nice to hear your perspective!